Adelaide sizzle in the drizzle


Adelaide United have all but consigned Gold Coast to the wooden spoon with a hard-fought 2-1 win in torrential rain at Skilled Park on Sunday.

Adelaide United have all but consigned Gold Coast to the wooden spoon with a hard-fought 2-1 win in torrential rain at Skilled Park on Sunday.

A Nigel Boogaard own goal gave the hosts an early lead, but strikes from Bruce Djite and Dario Vidosic helped the ninth-placed Reds open up an eight-point gap over the A-League cellar dwellers in front of 1723 fans who braved the brutal weather at Robina.

While Gold Coast still have seven matches to play and a game in hand on Adelaide, the rest of the competition is fast getting away from them – and their rotten luck and lengthy injury list are not helping.

They were extremely unfortunate not to have taken something away from the game, with the woodwork once again proving a menace on their home turf.

The loss was the Coast’s 11th for the season, leaving them with an alarming total of just three points from their last eight matches.

They were missing 11 regular players – including Peter Jungschlager, James Brown, Jerrad Tyson and Ante Rozic, who all failed to prove their fitness.

With nowhere else to turn but his youth squad, Miron Bleiberg handed 19-year-old Daniel Bragg his A-League debut, while wing-back and man-of-the-match Daniel Bowles grabbed his first ever start.

Bleiberg’s babes started brightly but as the game wore on, the experienced heads of the Reds eventually took over.

The United coach sprung a surprise, though, in naming Maceo Rigters, who has been relying on pain-killing injections to play through an ankle injury.

But the dynamic Dutchman looked far from laboured when seven minutes in, he helped put the home side ahead after smashing home a cutback from rising star Ben Halloran.

The youngster showed a clean pair of heels to Adelaide defender Yevgen Levchenko and found Rigters lurking, with his shot taking a wicked deflection off Boogaard.

Halloran was giving veteran Adelaide fullback Cassio a torrid time on the right flank, but in the shadows of half time the Brazilian made amends by beating him before providing the cross for the equalizer.

The man on the end of it, Djite, also made up for an embarrassing earlier miss from barely two metres out – this time, he found the target with his header to make it 1-1 at half time.

In truth the equaliser came against the run of play – right at the end of a first stanza largely dominated by the men in yellow.

But they were back to their inquisitive ways after the interval, with Zac Anderson’s 51st minute header going close to giving Gold Coast the lead again.

Two minutes later, only the most bizarre set of circumstances kept Golgol Mebrahtu from slotting home his maiden A-League goal.

On the counter with Halloran in tow, Mebrahtu used his sizzling pace to find himself one-on-one with Eugene Galekovic – but his shot was saved by the Reds custodian, bouncing off his hand, onto the underside of the crossbar and then somehow harmlessly away to safety.

Heartbreakingly for the hosts, the woodwork was clearly on Adelaide’s side after Dario Vidosic goaled on the hour mark.

His stunning long-range free kick bent around the Gold Coast wall and went in off the upright, with the Reds marquee man enjoying the good fortune that had only moments earlier deserted Mebrahtu.

The two sides essentially went shot for shot in the latter stages of the match, with numerous chances going begging, but the killer blow had already been landed.

Gold Coast United 1 (og 7)
Adelaide United 2 (Djite 42, Vidosic 60)
Crowd: 1723 at Skilled Park, Robina